Russia missile sale to Syria is ‘significant escalation’: John Bolton

Geneva Stokes
September 25, 2018

"According to information of our military experts, the reason (behind the downing) were premeditated actions by Israeli pilots which certainly can not but harm our relations", President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Russian Federation will supply Syria with a more modern S-300 missile defense system in the coming weeks, Moscow said Monday.

Shortly after Moscow's announcement, the Syrian president's office said Assad received a call from Vladimir Putin and that the two discussed the latest developments, including the Idlib deal and the delivery of S-300s.

Following the incident, Russian Federation chose to supply an S-300 air-defense system to the Syrian military.

Russian Federation said Monday that it would equip Syria with sophisticated air defense systems, a move that could worsen a rift with Israel by limiting its ability to bomb across its northern border.

Russian officials said Syria's Soviet-made S-200 systems, one of which downed the Russian plane, weren't sophisticated enough to identify the Russian aircraft as a friendly one.

Peskov said the new measures were only to boost the security of its troops in Syria.

Russian Federation is the main ally of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, who Israel has repeatedly targeted.

However, an Ilyushin Il-76MD plane of the Russian Air Force 223rd Flight Unit was spotted flying from Russian Air Force base in Mozdok, Ossetia to the Russian base in Humaymim, Latakia through Turkish airspace.

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He also said he disagreed with the Israeli version of events concerning the downing of the Russian plane. The Syrian military had been trying to target four Israeli jets that were conducting raids near the Mediterranean Sea.

"We are certain that the realization of these measures will cool the "hot heads" and will keep them from poorly thought-out actions which threaten our servicemen", Shoigu said.

The deterioration in relations between Russian Federation and Israel, along with a transfer of the S-300 system, complicates Israel's efforts to contain Iranian influence.

Israel has long lobbied Moscow not to provide the S-300 to Syria, fearing this would hinder its aerial capability to strike buildups of Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria.

"Today's data does not just suggest but prove that the blame for the tragic [downing] of the Russian Il-20 airplane lies entirely with the Israeli Air Force", the major general told journalists.

That changed last Monday, when Syrian government forces mistook a Russian reconnaissance plane for an Israeli jet and shot it down, killing all 15 people on-board.

"The Russian side proceeds from the fact that the actions by the Israeli air force were the main reason for the tragedy", a statement said.

Nevertheless, the Israeli military said that it would continue to operate against Iran and Hezbollah in Syria and that it hoped its coordination efforts with Russian Federation continued.

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